You’re never too young to make a difference. Just ask the three young altruists we interviewed for this article. They don’t sit and question why they can’t; they simply do. Creighton celebrates furry friends, Marley communicates colorfully, and Clara creates to raise money for children halfway around the globe. Each focuses her philanthropic energy to make an impact on the world.
Creighton Boggs, 16
All 4 Paws Animal Charity
When Creighton Boggs was 10 years old, she reached into her closet and found a present she’d received for her previous birthday — unused.
“I really don’t need anymore things,” Sallie Boggs remembers her daughter saying.
So when Creighton planned her 11th birthday party, she asked friends not to bring any gifts. Instead she requested donations to be given to a local animal shelter, and thus All 4 Paws was founded “to improve the quality of life for all animals, especially the homeless.”
“People were really surprised at first,” says Creighton.
At that first birthday fundraiser in 2005, Creighton collected an SUV full of dog and cat food, hand sanitizer, bleach, detergent and old towels for bedding, dog beds and crates. She donated it to the Animal Mission, the support group for the City of Columbia Animal Shelter.
In the six years since, Creighton has organized birthday, holiday and just-because fundraisers through her one-girl endeavor, collecting more than $6,000, most of it going to the Animal Mission.
Creighton’s hard work has not gone unrecognized. In seventh grade, she was named Middle School Volunteer of the Year for South Carolina in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, co-sponsored by The Prudential Financial Group and the Association of Secondary School Principals. She represented South Carolina at a three-day National Conference in Washington, D.C., and received a cash award of $1,000. She also has received the SCB&T Daymaker Award at the Hootie and the Blowfish Party Animals Benefit, has been recognized by the S.C. Legislature and has received Presidential Service Awards from President Bush and President Obama.
She has been the Dreher nominee for the Prudential Award for three years, including this one.
“It’s heartening to see young people be so selfless and, instead of accepting gifts themselves, giving gifts to pets and considering the plight of the animals,” says Marli Drum, shelter director for the Animal Mission.
Why animals? Creighton says she’s always loved them. She recounts family legend that her first word was the name of the family cat.
“My mom and dad were taking bets on if it would be ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ and it was neither,” she says with a hint of mischief in her voice.
Now a junior at Dreher High School, Creighton’s classes demand more of her time and she’s become involved in extracurricular activities like drama. Yet she hasn’t abandoned what she started. In fact, All 4 Paws participated in St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church’s Alternative Gift Fair for the third year in November and raised more than $400 for the Animal Mission.
Creigton kept the party animal theme going for her sweet 16 with a birthday fundraiser at Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens, including a behind-the-scenes tour of the grizzly bear exhibit. The money raised went to support Riverbanks’s conservation fund for animals in Africa.
“I think a lot of people want to help if they can think of a way to do it,” says Creighton.
Creighton’s advice to others is simply to find something you’re really interested in. “Even if it takes a little more effort it’ll be worth it if it’s something you enjoy,” she says.
Marley Stokes, 13
Crayons for Kids
Crayons for Kids at
When Marley Stokes speaks, it’s hard not to pay attention. She lifts her chin, confidently holds the gaze of her audience and speaks clearly, punctuating her points with her hands and her pretty smile. Her poise belies her 13 years.
This has not always been the case.
When Marley was in second grade she was diagnosed with severe learning disabilities. Her brain did not process or retain information in a typical way, explains her mother Candy Stokes. This made it difficult for her to speak, and her mother feared she might never learn to read or write.
“Colors and drawing were the only way I could express myself,” says Marley.
Now an eighth-grader at Lexington Middle School, Marley still finds school a struggle at times, yet her family credits hard work and caring teachers for the progress she’s made.
Marley faced her challenges in many different ways. She discovered that list making and lots of repetition help her retain information. Speech therapy helped with her speech delay, and she began participating in pageants where public speaking is part of the competition.
“Because interviews are a huge part of most pageants, we thought that would be a good way to get her to finally express herself verbally,” says Candy. “Many interview sessions are about carrying on regular conversations, giving her an outlet to express herself and practice what speech therapy in school has taught her.”
As a contestant for an upcoming pageant, Marley was asked to develop a community service project. She saw it as an opportunity to make sure other children had a chance to express themselves. So she created Crayons for Kids, which collects crayons to donate to students at her former school, Midway Elementary. Her initial push is to supply boxes of crayons to all 180 students in the kindergarten class. Then she plans to keep going.
“The reason I want to continue Crayons For Kids is because it is a great way for kids to express themselves through coloring,” says Marley. “I would like for all kids to have this opportunity. It matters to me because I have been able to see what one person can accomplish and would like to get more people involved.”
Marley has created a Facebook page for Crayons for Kids, and she has had promotional posters made featuring a life-sized crayon portrayed by TLC’s King of the Crown, Cy Frakes. (Cy is also Marley’s pageant coach). She and her mother set up crayon drop-off locations at local businesses around Columbia and Lexington, and she even sent a request to billionaire businessman and TV personality Donald Trump to help out Crayons for Kids, though she has yet to receive a reply.
“We encourage her to keep thinking,” says Candy. “Every little thing she does is a growing experience.”
Marley envisions Crayons for Kids offering simple joy to children as a way to say thank you to those who helped her. “I see people everyday in need of help,” says Marley. “I’m not a doctor or a nurse who can heal people. But I can still help.”
Clara Wilson, 7
Be Salt and Light
Clara Wilson delights in the process.
The enthusiastic second-grader loves the die-cutting punch tool. She’s animated when describing the glue and resin steps used to embed pink-paisley flower designs into shiny bottlecaps. She smiles broadly while assembling a bejeweled pendant on its elastic necklace. Yet, her favorite thing may just be packaging the finished product with curlicued ribbon ties she creates with the pull of a scissor blade.
But Clara and her mother Beverly haven’t been making cute bottlecap necklaces for a year just for fun. Really it’s a labor of love known as Be Salt and Light. Making the “cool jewels” is time consuming; the right design came by way of trial and error, and finding different avenues to sell the $10 necklaces hasn’t been easy. But not doing it really isn’t an option. The results will change lives 13,000 miles away.
Clara’s paternal grandfather, Ben Wilson, worked in Vietnam for many years for the RJ Reynolds Company. He saw the needs of families and especially the children of the impoverished nation. After he retired in the late 90s, Ben founded a non-profit organization, Children of Vietnam, which provides education, housing, nutrition and healthcare services.
“We thought we needed to help him,” says Clara, a student at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School.
To help, Clara and Beverly came up with the idea to make jewelry. They decided on the name after a particular biblical quote resonated with Beverly. Then Clara “had a little talk about it” with her “Pawpaw.”
All the money made by Be Salt and Light goes to rebuilding a kindergarten classroom for children in the mountain village of Tam My Tay. A typhoon destroyed much of the village, including the school, in 2009.
“We want to raise a lot of money,” says Clara. Their goal is at least $5,000.
Beverly and her husband Elliott thought Be Salt and Light would be a great opportunity for Clara to learn and grow. Eventually, they want to take their daughter to Vietnam to visit the children whose lives she hopes to impact.
“We are so privileged,” says Beverly. “We don’t worry about food, a warm bed at night, school for our children.”
Initially, Beverly thought the effort would be a one-time deal; instead it’s an ongoing adventure. And while the process hasn’t always been easy, Beverly believes it’s what the family should be doing.
“God wants us to show his love to others through our actions,” she says.
And if Clara has her way, Be Salt and Light will do just that, one bottlecap necklace at a time.